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January 17, 2005
SolidWorks Adds StereoGraphics 3D Visualization To Its Solid Modeling Capabilities
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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SolidWorks Adds StereoGraphics 3D Visualization To Its Solid Modeling Capabilities

SolidWorks Corp., the number one supplier of mechanical design software and StereoGraphics, the number one supplier of electronic stereoscopic visualization hardware, have teamed up to add stereoscopic support as a standard feature in SolidWorks software. The new visualization feature will allow SolidWorks users to visualize and communicate their solid models in Stereo3D when using CrystalEyes electronic eyewear from StereoGraphics.

True stereoscopic depth perception, when added to an electronic display image, provides state-of-the-art design review and visualization. It's like having the actual model in the room instead of on the computer screen. This is accomplished using an appropriate CRT monitor or DLP projector and CrystalEyes electronic eyewear. For the past 17 years, CrystalEyes has been the industry standard for designers and engineers who require Stereo3D computer graphics models. Design errors are reduced, throughput is increased, and design reviews are enhanced, ultimately speeding time-to-market.

"Stereoscopic visualization capabilities have been added to SolidWorks software for one key reason -- customer demand," said Brian Houle, partner program manager for SolidWorks Corporation. "We asked StereoGraphics to provide this solution because it is the leader in the visualization market. With these new capabilities, SolidWorks can now provide a software/hardware turn-key solution that guarantees user satisfaction."

Lenny Lipton, CEO and founder of StereoGraphics stated, "We are pleased that SolidWorks and StereoGraphics have joined forced to offer their customers a great solution for stereoscopic visualization on the Windows platform. Our expertise has helped SolidWorks integrate the most advanced stereoscopic capabilities and user interface into its 3D software as an intrinsic feature set."

The new stereoscopic capabilities within SolidWorks software will initially be available for download at
www.solidworks.com. In Q1 2005, it will be available in a SolidWorks Service Pack, and then in the next major SolidWorks product release. Selected SolidWorks resellers will offer StereoGraphics products to provide a turnkey Stereo3D solution.

StereoGraphics created the Stereo3D visualization industry a quarter of a century ago, and remains the world's leading supplier. CrystalEyes and the Monitor and Projector ZScreen are the industry standards for eyewear-based professional stereoscopic viewing, on Earth, for CAD, mapping, medical imaging, and molecular modeling, and on Mars, for NASA's Rovers. The SynthaGram monitor, with its thrillingly realistic bright image, sets the standard for Glasses-Free 3D.

CrystalEyes, StereoGraphics' flagship product is a workstation-enabled, wireless set of liquid crystal shutter eye glasses for Stereo3D image viewing with engineering and scientific applications. It is used in conjunction with compatible software and workstation displays, and is activated by an infrared emitter that connects to a workstation.

Stereo3D is a very interesting technology that recreates the way we naturally see depth - stereoscopically. Stereoscopic viewing uses both eyes together - each with a slightly different perspective - to perceive depth in a physical environment. StereoGraphics' CrystalEyes provides high-definition stereoscopic viewing in an electronic environment using a concept known as Stereo3D. Stereo3D provides a startlingly realistic visual representation of complex digital solid models that can provide a better understanding of 3D information not possible using 2D views.

CrystalEyes works with a computer display and compatible software to continuously transmit separate left-eye/right-eye images to create the illusion that on-screen objects have depth and presence outside of the computer monitor. The eyewear's liquid crystal shutter lenses alternately block the wrong image and transmit the correct one to create a realistic 3D effect. CrystalEyes receives its shuttering synchronization pulses from an infrared emitter attached to a workstation.

A vital aspect of CrystalEyes is dynamic range that refers an image rejection/transmission ratio of left-eye and right-eye images in a stereoscopic environment. A high dynamic range is important to ensure that only the correct image is shown to each eye. Otherwise, ghosting and double-images result. CrystalEyes' shutter design has a large lens area with a dynamic range of over 1500:1, far greater than necessary for most displays, ensuring a crisp stereo 3D image without any ghosting or double-image artifacts.

SolidWorks is the newest MCAD application to support CrystalEyes, since several other MCAD, solid modeling/prototyping applications also support it, including UGS NX, SDRC Ideas, CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, among others.

StereoGraphics' technology is widely used in the automotive and aerospace industries. For example, Boeing used CrystalEyes extensively when developing its 777 aircraft. Ford Motor Co., GM, DaimlerChrysler, Mercedes Benz, and just about every other major auto manufacturer use CrystalEyes for the virtual prototyping process for performing crash-test simulation, noise vibration and harshness (NVH) testing, package design, styling/aesthetics design, and ergonomics design. On the scientific side, NASA used CrystalEyes to pilot the Mars Sojourner rover and interpret terrain information as part of the Pathfinder project.

The newest version of the product, CrystalEyes 3, is priced at $795. If accurate 3D visualization is an important part of the work you do, check out StereoGraphics' CrystalEyes for a journey into the virtual realm.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached here or 408.850.9230.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.